Get a big food processor. A stick blender will work, but a big sturdy strong food processor that can work uninterrupted for a few minutes is better.
Get small chickpeas. (Big ones work, too, but the smaller they are, the softer they get, and it’s important.)
Wash with flowing water, and remove bad ones (black, stale, etc.)
Put chickpeas in water for at least 24 hours. Keep them in a refrigerator. Change the water every six hours or so. I usually have them in the water for two or three days. They will increase twice or more in size during this time, so use a large receptacle.
Optionally, you may peel your chickpeas. It may make the final paste slightly smoother, but it’s very time-consuming.
Boil the chickpeas in a pot on a small stove until they are soft. “Soft” means that you can crush them with your fingers or teeth as easily as a boiled green pea. This may take a few hours, depending on weather, water quality, type of pot, fire intensity, and of course the chickpeas themselves. Usually it takes me somewhere between two and four hours. I begin in the morning and it’s ready by lunch time. (Arabs frequently do it overnight and have it as breakfast.)
- Half a cup or more of tahini. Try to get something produced in Israel or an Arab country – Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt. In Israel, Tahini from Nablus is very highly regarded. Uzbek or Turkish tahini may be OK, but I’m not sure. Get raw tahini: it should have nothing but sesame in the ingredients (and maybe oil, but even that is unnecessary). Don’t use “tahini salads”, “seasoned tahini”, or “tahini spreads” if they have anything except sesame.
- Half a cup of olive oil.
- Fresh cold water. Some people use the water in which the chickpeas were boiled, and it’s OK, but fresh cold water gives the final product brighter color. For the amount see below.
- Squeezed lemon juice. Half a lemon may be enough, but it can go up to a whole lemon or even more if you like it.
- A clove of garlic. Some people don’t use it – a matter of taste.
- A pinch of cumin. Just a tiny little pinch – it gives enough taste. Too much of it won’t ruin the taste, but will darken the color.
- Salt and black pepper to taste. Small pinches should be enough.
It may be a good idea not to grind all the chickpeas, but to keep some boiled ones and add them as a topping. In fact, many hummus restaurants serve plates of hummus with lots of non-ground chickpeas in the middle, but do make sure that they are very soft.
- Boiled soft chickpeas
- Fried mushrooms
- Fava beans
- Hard-boiled egg
- Baked eggplant
- A lot of people suggest adding a spoon of baking soda while boiling. They say that it makes the chickpeas softer. I tried it a few times, and it doesn’t hurt, but not really necessary either.
- It’s OK to cheat by buying a can of preserved whole chickpeas if they are sold in your area. They are already soft, so you only need to boil them for a few minutes. It saves you a lot of time and the taste is fine.
The first ten or so times that I tried to do it, it was very far from brilliant. It can take years to become good at it. Don’t let it discourage you :)